Smoking cessation

Smoking Cessation Drug 46% Effective in Women

Varenicline is initially more effective in helping women quit smoking than men, according to a new study. After one year, the drug is equally effective in men and women.

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“Studies show that women have a harder time quitting smoking than men, even as quitting has shown greater benefits to women’s cardiovascular and respiratory health,” said Sherry McKee, professor of psychiatry and lead researcher of Yale’s Specialized Center of Research.

McKee and colleagues analyzed data from 6710 smokers using varenicline for smoking cessation through December 31, 2014. The data confirmed the previous findings that women were less likely than men to quit while using a placebo.

Previous studies have found that nicotine replacement or bupropion produce lower rates of quitting in women.

When factoring in the lower placebo effect in women, varenicline increased the odds of women quitting by 46% after 3 months of treatment. Furthermore, the drug was 31% more effective at maintaining smoking abstinence after 6 months.

Researchers do not know why varenicline is particularly effective for women but speculated that sex differences in the nicotine receptor system in the brain may be a key factor.

“This is the first demonstration that women compared to men have a preferred therapeutic response for a smoking cessation medication when considering short-term treatment outcomes and equal outcomes at one year. Varenicline appears to be particularly useful for reducing the sex disparity in smoking cessation rates,” McKee said.

Harrison R. Smoking cessation drug proves initially more effective for women [press release]. Yale University. October 7, 2015. Accessed October 7, 2015.